Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Health Update

The latest health news is in.  I have type 2 diabetes which was brought on by obesity.  I test positive for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).  Worse, I have squamous cell cancer which is in stage 4.

The good news is that the diabetes will leave when I lose the excess weight.  The cancer is treatable by either surgery or a combination of radiation therapy and chemo therapy.  Given that the surgery is 12 hours long and leaves permanent damage to my head and neck, I'm opting for radiation and chemo.

The national success rate for this is around 85%; My oncologist, Dr. Steven Rubin, has a success rate in the high 90s.  I'll be having 7 weeks of radiation therapy, 5 sessions per week and 7 weeks of chemo therapy, 1 session per week.  This translates into four months of misery.

Getting old isn't for sissies.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


The world will end tomorrow, Wednesday, April 9th, in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand and Fourteen.  That is, the world ends if you use Windows XP.  You can still be saved - there's still time! - if you switch to Windows 7 or Windows 8.  An alternative is to switch to a different operating system (OpSys) altogether, such as Linux.  Or you can renounce Microsoft altogether and byte the Apple, where you'll find a brand new migraine about the third time you try to print something and discover nothing will print, and in fact there is no print option on the menu.

Woe is me.  I am one such person who's life depends on XP, and I intend to do nothing to rectify my supposedly untenable situation.  The fact is that I'm well protected from viruses, trojans and other digital nasties, and I tend to stay away from such sites as DonkeyDickVirgins, SuperFreeDownloads and anything with the edu suffix.  I use Webroot and Malwarebytes which have served me very well thus far, and will continue to serve until my hard drive finally gives up the ghost and I lose a day's work.

So I'll just skip spending $150 for a copy of Windows 7 that my poor, tired old PC probably wouldn't be able to run anyway, and just limp along as best I can.  I'll also save myself the tedium of 16 hours of OpSys updates, installing all my software on my system and moving my data files back.

What really irritates me about the whole business is that we in the good old U.S. of A. have a government that loves nothing more than to regulate things.  If our government was actually looking out for our best interests, the government would force Microsoft to support XP for the next 15 years.  Fat chance of that ever happening.

Maybe I'll enjoy a celebratory martini when Microsoft finally disowns their bastard child.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Book Review: The Bell Witch [Kindle Edition]

The Bell Witch [Kindle Edition]
John F.D. Taff (Author), James Roy Daley (Editor), Books of the Dead (Editor)
File Size: 4491 KB
Print Length: 266 pages
Publisher: Books of the Dead Press (August 5, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

This story is about the infamous Bell Witch, a legendary poltergeist which is said to have terrorized the Bell family of Adams, Tennessee back in the early 19th century.  The first third of the book is very good, and if I stopped after the first third I'd rate this at four stars.  But I didn't, and so discovered that the plot tended to stall out during the second third of the book, and by the final third I was wondering if this thing was ever going to end.

The characterization is average, or maybe a little below average.  This is a handicap that you can get away with if the pacing is solid and the scenes are exceptional - which isn't true here.  The scenes are okay.  Not great, not bad.  Just okay.  The pacing in the final chapters drags along with the tedium people experience while they wait for the dentist to come back in with the x-rays.  The ending is in sight, but no matter what happens the author refuses to take us to the end.

What I found disappointing was that the rest of the book didn't live up to the high quality of the first third, which I found very enjoyable. Too bad, because it didn't have to be this way.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Critical Thinking (Humor)

Woman: Do you drink beer?
Man: Yes.

Woman: How many beers a day?
Man: Usually about 3.

Woman: How much do you pay for each beer?
Man: $5.00, which includes a tip.

Woman: And how long have you been drinking?
Man: About 20 years, I suppose.

Woman: So if a beer costs $5 and you have 3 beers a day, that's $15 a day you spend on beer, or $450 per month. In one year, it would be approximately $5400. Correct?
Man: Correct.

Woman: If in 1 year you spend $5400, not accounting for inflation, the past 20 years puts your spending at $108,000, correct?
Man: Correct.

Woman: Do you know that if you didn't drink so much beer, that money could have been put in a step-up interest savings account and after accounting for compound interest for the past 20 years, you could have now bought a Ferrari?

Man: Do you drink beer?
Woman: No.
Man: Where's your Ferrari?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Currently Reading: Characters and Viewpoint

I attended a lecture at Origins Game Fair a few years ago, and the most valuable advice I received was a suggestion to buy Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card (ISBN 0-89879-927-9, 173 pages).  I read sections of it shortly after I bought it and found it helpful.  I found it in my bookshelf the other day, and I intend to sit down and read the whole thing before continuing with Otheldo.  After I finish I'll post a review.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Writing a Bad Review

If you're self-published, you are quite literally one of millions.  After you've completed the laborious process of getting your work listed on Amazon and fixing it so it doesn't look too awful bad on a kindle, you've got to somehow get yourself noticed by the multitudes who are going to read your work and want more.  One major part of that particular flaming hoop is to get people to give your work a review.

Most of us have friends and family who say that they'll do that right away.  Most don't, and there are some that you'd really rather not say anything at all.  I'm somewhat borderline.  I tend to be overly critical and when I give something a good review, it sounds a little like flattery no matter how sincere it is.  I write reviews anyway, and I probably shouldn't.

So my current problem is that I've been asked to review someone's work and tell them how good it is, and it sucks.  It's poorly written, formatting is non-existent, the plot is disjointed, the characterization has been skipped because it takes a lot of work and, well, if anyone's reading this they may understand what I'm talking about.  It sucks.  How do I say all that without taking a soldering iron to their fingertips, figuratively speaking?

I think the person in question is looking for a mutual admiration group.  I know these sorts of groups exist, but I've never tried to find one and I wouldn't be interested in joining if I did.  Maybe I should encourage the newly hatched author to seek out and join such a group, and eventually run for club president.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Back to Life

I'm going to try and bring the blog back to life.  My lack of postings is not due to writer's block; it's a combination of misplaced priorities and the unavoidable condition of personal obstructions getting in the way.  For instance:

The snow.  For all intents and purposes, we are snowed in.  Our driveway is about 1000 feet of unpaved road, and even now that it's been plowed getting anything in or out requires either four wheel drive and a very savvy driver or Divine intervention.

In the middle of this I came down with stomach flu.  I was so incredibly sick that I wanted someone to come and put me out of everyone's misery.  The condition of the driveway prevented any and all good Samaritans from showing up.

Right after I survived, Mom came down with the same flu and, at the same time, came down with a bad case of sciatica.  So Mom is in so much pain she can't walk, and because of the flu she can't take any pills.  And again, because the ground is frozen to the consistency of iron, I can't shoot her because then what would I do about digging her a grave?  You can argue that I could just wrap her up in a tarp and put her out in the barn until Spring, but we all know how that kind of thing goes.  And this is Mom we're talking about here, not some pesky neighbor who doesn't really matter anyway.

Well, Mom survived the flue and recovered from sciatica.  So that's good.

So I guess I'm back at it.  I'm writing another anthology of short stories featuring Otheldo, and the ideas are coming faster than I can adequately get them on paper.  There are worse things, I suppose.  Like being outside in the snow and ice.